June 22, 2016

Walmart Beauty Box: Summer 2016 (a review!)...

imageI was pretty dang excited to find this pretty little box in our mail recently, and couldn't wait to open it! I consider it a good day when we receive something other than a stack of marketing mailers sent to people who used to live at our apartment. Seriously, we still get mail for a ton of people, and they apparently spent a lot of their money on cruises, cigarettes and aquarium memberships. It's slightly bothersome.

But I digress.

Here are the details for what was included in the summer version of this seasonal subscription box:
Lady Gaga Fame Perfume — This is a repeat item, which is odd. (I received the same thing in the Spring 2015 box, which I reviewed here.) I'll definitely use it, thought, because wearing actual perfume makes me feel like a fancy lady. Which I am not.

Incoco nail art strips — There was a time in my life when I thought I could be someone who could wear nail art, but now I know that it's just not my thing. It's okay; I've come to terms with it. I've seen nail strips that are in pretty adorable patterns, and if these were in a pattern that appealed to me I may have tried them, but at this point I think I'll try them on Eisley (even though her nail beds are way smaller than the strips, so it could be a total nightmare trying to apply them...good luck and godspeed to me...).

Goody SlideProof hair elastics — I am positive I received a pack of these in a previous box, but it must have been one that I didn't review here on my blog. We use them all the time, and they work exceptionally well (especially on my mom-style messy buns, as well as Eisley's super-long-hair ponytails) and we will add these new ones to our stash, but it was still a little bummed to see an obvious repeat in this box.

Schwarzkopf Essence Ultime shampoo and conditioner — I always love trying new shampoo and conditioner products, so I'm sure I'll be using these at some point in the next month. They're specifically for colored or highlighted hair and claim to be "fast drying" and include "luxurious pearl essence" and "diamond gloss serum" (their marketing team is putting in some serious hours, you guys). I haven't had my hair color treated or highlighted in ages, but I'll still try these samples!

Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant toothpaste — Another toothpaste sample for Jay's travel bag? Check.

Vaseline Intensive Care lotion — Another lotion sample for the diaper bag? Check.

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs — This little sample is labeled "Leg Makeup" which I find hilarious. Are my legs the shade of printer paper, and feature their fair share of imperfections? Yes. Do I really want to start applying makeup to them in order to make them look better? Um, no. What is this madness.

A variety of single-use samples and coupons were also inside the box, but nothing too exciting this time around.

To be honest, this is the first time I've been disappointed by one of these boxes. There isn't one thing I'm genuinely giddy over, and there are two items that will get no use at all. By me, at least. (If you are in the market for leg makeup, you know who to call for a 0.75 oz sample.) The repeat items are disappointing, and it seems like the folks who organize these boxes could have been a bit more creative. Alas! There are worse things than spending such a small amount of money on something like this, only to be a little bummed by what I find inside.

If you want to sign up for this beauty box (they ship four times a year—once every season—and you can cancel any time) you can visit the website here. As a reminder, I don't get anything if you sign up, and these posts aren't sponsored. I pay for all these boxes myself! I've enjoyed all the boxes up until this point, so I think I'll see how the next one is before deciding whether or not to cancel my subscription. At only $5 a box, it's hard to be too critical, but if there's more repeat items (or too many things I'll never use) in next season's box I will probably decide to cancel.
Did you get this month's box? I know there are a couple versions, so I'm always interested to hear what other people received!

— Further reading: Walmart Beauty Box—Spring 2016

Affiliate links included in this post; view my disclosure policy here.

June 20, 2016

a small list of good things...

+ We are experiencing an out-of-the-blue heat wave around these parts, so this weekend I finally broke down and decided to try my hand at cold brew coffee. I've looked up recipes on Pinterest many, many times, but I always figured I was just too lazy to do anything other than brew a cup of regular coffee every morning. Of course, having finally made cold brew coffee, I now understand how ridiculously easy it is and am wondering where it has been all my life. There are a million recipes out there (I really wish I were kidding) but to save you some time, I used this one. I halved the recipe—both because I couldn't find a container big enough for the full amount, and because I didn't want to waste a bunch of coffee if it ended up tasting awful. (It tasted the opposite of awful. Pretty much heaven.) I think I'll tinker with the ratios of water and coffee, but I'm already in love. And clearly, one must drink cold brew coffee from a mason jar or they're kicked off the internet. (You've been warned.)

+ I love having a good audiobook to listen to here and there throughout the day, and the one I'm currently listening to is fantastic. It's called A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran. It's much longer than I'd anticipated, but the story is riveting and I'm always a sucker for a good memoir. As always, I'm listening to this through the Overdrive app, which connects to my local library (so I'm able to listen to audiobooks for free).

+ I recently realized my favorite maternity dress totally works as a non-maternity dress, and for that I am grateful. It's kind of amazing when something can look great on someone 39 weeks pregnant, and then still look great (and non-maternity-ish) on someone nearly one year postpartum. (Bonus points for the fact that I can houdini myself out of the sleeves in order to breastfeed Cora, even though it's clearly not a nursing-friendly design.) Target does it again!

+ Netflix just informed me via email that a new season of Grey's Anatomy is available and I'm all over that business. Granted, I have no idea when I'll be able to get through all the episodes (binge-watching is a wee bit different when you have two children, one being a wild little non-sleeper at night). But, still. There are few shows that I enjoy watching, and Grey's continues to be one of them—even if I never watch it live and always wait until the entire season is available to stream.

+ A sweet friend recently brought me flowers after I babysat one of her daughters and oh, the joy of a bouquet of flowers! I honestly can't even remember the last time I had fresh flowers on our table. It makes me want to start indulging in a bouquet for myself, even if it's just once a month. Perhaps I shall.

— Further reading: more small lists of good things

Affiliate links included in this post; view my disclosure policy here.

June 11, 2016

crazy and peaceful...

My intention most mornings is to wake up early and write. To enjoy a cup of coffee and to spill out some of my thoughts while the house is still quiet, clean, dark. But goodness knows that a bit of extra sleep usually manages to take priority. (I know someday Cora will not wake up so often at night and I will feel like a fully-rested human being instead of a half-crazed zombie woman. Until then, any extra sleep I can get will be fully embraced.) Still, on the mornings I do drag myself out of bed after Cora's last feeding (often around 5AM) and enjoy the silence and time completely to myself, it feels like a gift.

So many things these days feel like gifts.

I'm very aware, more-so this second time around, what an immeasurable privilege it is to be a mother. To be the one who watches this tiny little person grow and learn and explore and reach all these new milestones. To be the one my youngest feverishly tries to crawl onto for no reason at all—just knowing she feels most comfort in that moment while nestled in my lap. To be the one my older daughter craves almost constant attention from and interaction with—offering hilarious quips and endless enthusiasm and rather intense emotions all day long. I suppose I'm more aware of the fact that each of these stages are so fleeting, since I've been through nearly five years of mothering my first child and now nearly a year with my second. I have no compass when it comes to parenting anyone over the age of my own children, but I definitely feel like I'm finally earning my gray hairs (and the wisdom we all hope accompanies their arrival) with all I've experienced during my own journey of motherhood.

Most days, despite the rough moments that scatter themselves in-between the sweet, I am often reminded of how lucky I am. It is such a privilege to be here, to be their mom. Even on the days I feel so exhausted and unqualified and rather like hiding in the bathroom so I can be alone for five minutes.

So, yes, life right now is definitely crazy. But there have been some wonderful changes that came with my husband's new job that have made our new normal very peaceful, in some ways.

At the job he left several months ago, he would be gone twelve hours (most days) during the week. His commute was over an hour—and I knew very much how dreadful that commute was, since I had the same one before I left my job to stay home with Eisley. It was a struggle after we had Cora, because she had a rather early bedtime for a while, and when he'd get home after 6:30, she would often already be in bed—meaning he wouldn't even get to see her at all that day. And making dinner was absolute madness, as I tried to figure out how to find something for a grumpy preschooler and a cranky baby to do while I threw something quick together, praying we would somehow make it through another witching-hour dinnertime. Nights felt more rushed and stressful, for sure.

Now, he can ride his bike to work. His new office is just a few miles away. He leaves later in the morning, and he gets home a full two hours earlier every evening.

This is where I realize all my plans were not the best for our family. As often is the case, I really thought I knew what we needed, where we should go, what would be best for this and that and everything under the sun. God knew what he was doing when he orchestrated the past six months of our lives. (And, clearly, everything before.) This new job has brought peace to the crazy that still often fills our days—and with it, a consistency and security that I know I'd been craving for a long time.